Quote of the Week:
"They are freaking awful" - Navy HC Paul Johnson, on his entire team, but specifically his defense.
It's been about what you would expect from the first week of spring practices at the Naval Academy. Paul Johnson has been critical of his entire team as usual (which he should be) while the local papers have been setting the scene for a 2007 season which figures to see an explosive offense but a rather "green" defense. Much of the talk in the papers seems to be about incoming defensive back Corey Johnson, who traded in three years on the hardwood with the Mids for a final chance to play football. Johnson, a 6'2 192-lb defender from Indiana, received several partial scholarships to play football out of High School, and according to Coach Johnson "has a chance" to see playing time in 2007. You can read more about Corey here and here.
Speaking of Coach Johnson, it seems as though he is really high on Antron Harper at center. Careful observers of his media transcripts will note he seems to indicate Antron is the only bright spot on his roster on daily basis. Just take a look at the latest presser, where Johnson indicates the only player he saw doing well was Antron. This could mean one of three things in my estimation. 1) Someone might just as well hand Antron the Remington trophy right now, 2) The defense must really suck, or 3) Coach Johnson spends 98% of practices watching Antron. Take your pick based on your own preference, but I'll take the optimistic route and say we are set at center for 2007.
Overall, Johnson seems to be content with where the first team offense stands. That makes sense considering the Mids are returning basically all their skill players from the Nation's top-ranked rushing team, and are fairly solid up front on the O-Line. However, he does seem very displeased with the defense, which he described as playing "with their pads too high" and playing with "not much intensity." Considering the Mids have to replace their entire defensive line from last year and half their linebacker corps, this is not exactly unexpected. I'll have more on this next week, after I speak with a High school coach I know who went to observe practice this past week.
Hey, is anyone else as excited as I am to watch the fullback position this spring? Incumbent Adam Ballard (792 rush yards last year) returns after a season ending injury late last year, while challenger Eric Kettani seems poised to push for even more playing time. Johnson was very high on Kettani, who he declared a "physical specimen" in his presser last weekend. Kettani, who at 231-lbs runs a sub 4.6/40 and benches 400-lbs, came on strong in limited time last year due to Ballard's injury, showcasing good cutting ability and great hips. Coach Johnson has indicated both of these fullbacks could see playing time in 2007, although I'll go on record of saying I think Ballard is going to have a HUGE year next season, and not just because he enjoyed all the publicity I threw his way last season on the Fan House.
Oh yea, speaking of 40 times. I think we are all learning a valuable lesson in that football players are never as fast as they say they are. Coach Johnson indicated he has three guys who ran sub 4.6/40's, although pointed often to the discrepancy of times based on running conditions and human subjectivity. Apparently, in the "magic gym" we have a plethora of people who runs in the 4.5 range. Those of you who have been following the combine know that even some of the best college football stars run in the 4.6's, including former USC receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who ran a 4.67/40 and still is considering a late first round/low second round pick. I'm not losing any sleep over these kinds of things though. This is a fast team at what it does, and as long as the offense is executing efficiently I could care less if they ran 4.8's.
Kaipo-Noa is still ahead of Jarod Bryant as far as QB is concerned. He did some good things this week according to Johnson, but when you consider the cats of players around him compared to what the first string defense is looking like, this shouldn't come as a huge shock.
Lastly, this blog is still alive, despite being relatively inactive for periods of up to a week. I'm really very sorry, but I happen to be in the middle of an athletic season and its tough for me to update happenings on a nightly basis. So for the remainder of the spring I'll shoot for a mid-week update and a big Saturday recap like I did today. (Photo from NavySports.com)
Last Year's Starters Not Safe At Navy (Washington Times)
At Navy, Johnson Issues Call to Action To Young Defense (Baltimore Sun)
Offense Starting Quickley for Mids (Washington Times)
Navy Like to Take Fresh Spring Tack (Annapolis Capital)